On Wednesday, Jan. 8, a committee will present a trio of scenarios and look for community feedback before making a recommendation to the district’s Board of Education for a bond proposal to appear on the May ballot. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. at Spring Lake Middle School.
The next sessions will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, at Spring Lake High School; and at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Crockery Township Hall.
Since voters rejected a nearly $60 million bond proposal in November 2013, the district has worked with EPIC-MRA, a Lansing-based survey research firm, to analyze voter turnout results. The survey asked voters specific questions about the recent bond and what they would like to see in a future proposal.
Spring Lake school board President Paul Aldridge, who is a member of the special committee, said the group has narrowed the choices down to three scenarios after reviewing the survey data and the district’s needs.
Aldridge said it's now vitally important to obtain the community’s input on the subject.
“The community really does own the schools," he said. "We need their input.”
Spring Lake Superintendent Dennis Furton said through planning for the next bond campaign, committee discussions evolved into finding solutions to solve elementary facility needs. He said the committee wrestled with the issues, which aren’t easy to solve because each solution has advantages and disadvantages for the community and district.
“You’re always compromising on one aspect,” Furton said.
Based on survey results, Furton said the district might not have adequately communicated the district’s “substantial” facility needs prior to last fall's vote. The survey found that eight in 10 residents gave a positive rating for the condition of the schools, facilities and grounds.
“Frankly, that’s not the case,” Furton said.
District buildings underwent a facility analysis that determined the district should address heating systems, transportation, roofing, security and space.
The district is moving forward with a bond campaign at this time for the ability to join the School Bond Loan Fund, which smooths debt for school districts.
During the upcoming community sessions, Furton said residents will have the chance to ask questions and give immediate feedback.
Furton said the committee will meet again to look at the data before making a recommendation to the school board on Jan. 16. The school board is expected to make a decision on the bond proposal during a regular meeting at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 20 at Spring Lake Intermediate/Middle School's Media Center.